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The charge therefore of elections ought never to be lost sight of, in a question concerning their frequency'; because the grand object you seek is independence. Independence of mind will ever be more or less influenced by independence of fortune; and if, every three years, the exhausting sluices of entertainments, drinkings, open houses, to say nothing of bribery, are to be periodically drawn up and renewed; if government-favours, for which now, in some shape or other, the whole race of men are candidates, are to be called for upon every occasion, I see that private fortunes will be washed away, and every, even to the least, trace of independence, borne down by the torrent. I do not seriously think this constitution, even to the wrecks of it, could survive five triennial elections. If you are to fight the battle, you must put on the armour of the ministry; you must call in the public, to the aid of private money. The expence of the last election has been computed (and I am persuaded that it has not been over-rated) at 1,500,000l. ;— three shillings in the pound more in the land tax. About the close of the last parliament, and the beginning of this, several agents for boroughs went about, and I remember well that it was in every one of their mouths-" Sir, your election will cost you 3,000l. if you are independent; but if the ministry supports you, it may be done for two, and perhaps for less," and indeed, the thing spoke itself. Where a living was to be got for one, a commission in the army for another, a lift in the navy for a third, and Custom-house offices scattered about without measure or number, who doubts but money may be saved? The Treasury may even add money; but indeed it is superfluous. A gentleman of 2,000l. a year, who meets another of the same fortune, fights with equal arms; but if to one of the candidates you add a thousand a year in places for himself, and a power of giving away as much among others, one must, or there is no truth in arithmetical demonstration, ruin his adversary, if he is to meet him and to fight with him every third year. It will be said, I do not allow for the operation of character; but I do; and I know it will have its weight in most elections; perhaps it may be decisive in some. But there are few in which it will prevent great expences. The destruction of independent fortunes will be the consequence on the part of the candidate. What will be the conse

[VOL. XXI.]

quence of triennial corruption, triennial drunkenness, triennial idleness, triennial law-suits, litigations, prosecutions, triennial phrenzy, of society dissolved, industry interrupted, ruined; of those personal hatreds, that will never be suffered to soften; those animosities and feuds, which will be rendered immortal those quarrels, which are never to be appeased; morals vitiated and gangrened to the vitals? I think no stable and useful advantages were ever made by the money got at elections by the voter, but all he gets is doubly lost to the public; it is money given to diminish the general stock of the community, which is in the industry of the subject. I am sure that it is a good while before he or his family settle again to their business. Their heads will never cool; the temptations of elections will be for ever glittering before their eyes. They will all grow politicians; every one, quitting his business, will choose to enrich himself by his vote. They will all take the gauging-rod; new places will be made for them; they will run to the Custom-house quay, their looms and ploughs will be deserted.

So was Rome destroyed by the disorders of continual elections, though those of Rome were sober disorders. They had nothing but faction, bribery, bread and stage plays, to debauch them. We have the inflammation of liquor superadded, a fury hotter than any of them. There the contest was only between citizen and citizen; here you have the contests of ambitious citizens of one side, supported by the crown, to oppose to the efforts (let it be so) of private and unsupported ambition on the other. Yet Rome was destroyed by the frequency and charge of elections, and the monstrous expence of an unremitted courtship to the people. I think, therefore, the independent candidate and elector may each be destroyed by it; the whole body of the community be an infinite sufferer; and a vicious ministry the only gainer. Gentlemen, I know, feel the weight of this argument; they agree that this would be the consequence of more frequent elections, if things were to continue as they are. But they think the greatness and frequency of the evil would itself be a remedy for it; that, sitting but for a short time, the member would not find it worth while to make such vast ex. pences, while the fear of their constituents will hold them the more effectually to their duty.

To this I answer, that experience is full [2R]

against them. This is no new thing; we have had triennial parliaments; at no period of time were seats more eagerly contested. The expences of elections ran higher, taking the state of all charges, than they do now. The expence of entertainments was such, that an Act, equally severe and ineffectual, was made against it; every monument of the time bears witness of the expence, and most of the Acts against corruption in elections were then made; all the writers talked of it and lamented it. Will any one think that a corporation will be contented with a bowl of punch, or a piece of beef the less, because elections are every three, instead of every seven years? Will they change their wine for ale, because they are to get more ale three years hence? Don't think it. Will they make fewer demands for the advantages of patronage in favours and offices, because their member is brought more under their power? We have not only our own historical experience in England upon this subject, but we have the experience co-existing with us in Ireland: where, since their parliament has been shortened, the expence of elections has been so far from being lowered, that it has been very near doubled. Formerly they sat for the King's life; the ordinary charge of a seat in parliament was then 1,500/. They now sit eight years, four sessions; it is now 2,500 and upwards. The spirit of emulation has also been extremely increased, and all who are acquainted with the tone of that country, have no doubt that the spirit is still grow ing; that new candidates will take the field; that the contests will be more violent, and the expences of elections larger than

ever.

It never can be otherwise. A seat in this House, for good purposes, for bad purposes, for no purposes at all (except the mere consideration derived from being concerned in the public counsels) will ever be a first-rate object of ambition in England. Ambition is no exact calculator. Avarice itself does not calculate strictly when it games. One thing is certain, that in this political game the great lottery of power is that, into which men will purchase with millions of chances against them. In Turkey, where the place, where the fortune, where the head itself, are so insecure, that scarcely any have died in their beds for ages; so that the bow-string is the natural death of Bashaws, yet in no country is power and

distinction (precarious enough, God knows, in all) sought for with such boundless avidity, as if the value of place was enhanced by the danger and insecurity of its tenure. Nothing will ever make a seat in this House not an object of desire to numbers by any means or at any charge, but the depriving it of all power and all dignity; this would do it. This is the true and only nostrum for that purpose. But a House of Commons without power and without dignity, either in itself or its members, is no House of Commons for the purposes of this constitution.

But they will be afraid to act ill, if they know that the day of their account is always near. I wish it were true; but it is not; here again we have experience, and experience is against us. The distemper of this age is a poverty of spirit and of genius; it is trifling, it is futile, worse than ignorant, superficially taught; with the politics and morals of girls at a boardingschool, rather than of men and statesmen ; but it is not yet desperately wicked, or so scandalously venal as in former times. Did not a triennial parliament give up the national dignity, approve the peace of Utrecht, and almost give up every thing else in taking every step to defeat the Protestant succession? Was not the constitution saved by those, who had no election at all to go to, the Lords, because the court applied to electors, and by various means carried them from their true interests; so that the Tory ministry had a majority without an application to a single member? Now as to the conduct of the members, it was then far from pure and independent. Bribery was infinitely more flagrant. A predecessor of your's, Mr. Speaker, put the question of his own expulsion for bribery. Sir William Musgrave was a wise man; a grave man; an independent man; a man of good fortune and good family; however he carried on while in opposition a traffic, a shameful traffic with the ministry. Bishop Burnet knew of 6,000l. which he had received at one payment. I believe the payment of sums in hard money, plain naked bribery, is rare amongst us. It was then far from

uncommon.

A triennial was near ruining, a septennial parliament saved your constitution; nor perhaps have you ever known a more flourishing period for the union of national prosperity, dignity and liberty, than the sixty years you have passed under that constitution of parliament.

The shortness of time, in which they | are to reap the profits of iniquity, is far from checking the avidity of corrupt men; it renders them infinitely more ravenous. They rush violently and precipitately on their object; they lose all regard to decorum. The moments of profits are precious; never are men so wicked as during a general mortality. It was so in the great plague at Athens; every symptom of which (and this its worst symptom amongst the rest) is so finely related by a great historian of antiquity. It was so in the plague of London in 1665. It appears in soldiers, sailors, &c. Whoever would contrive to render the life of man much shorter than it is, would, I am satisfied, find the surest receipt for increasing the wickedness of our nature.

Thus, in my opinion, the shortness of a triennial sitting would have the following ill, effects; it would make the member more shamelessly and shockingly corrupt; it would increase his dependence on those, who could best support him at his election; it would wrack and tear to pieces the fortunes of those, who stood upon their own fortunes and their private interest; it would make the electors infinitely more venal; and it would make the whole body of people, who are, whether they have votes or not, concerned in elections, more lawless, more idle, more debauched: it would utterly destroy the sobriety, the industry, the integrity, the simplicity of all the people; and undermine, 1 am much afraid, the deepest and best laid foundations of the commonwealth.

Those, who have spoken and written upon this subject without doors, do not so much deny the probable existence of these inconveniences, in their measure, as they trust for their prevention to remedies of various sorts, which they propose. First, a Place Bill; but if this will not do, as they fear it will not, then they say we will have a rotation, and a certain number of you shall be rendered incapable of being elected for ten years. Then for the electors, they shall ballot; the members of parliament also shall decide by ballot; a fifth project is the change of the present legal representation of the kingdom. On all this I shall observe, that it will be very unsuitable to your wisdom to adopt the project of a Bill, to which there are objections, insuperable by any thing in the Bill itself, upon the hope that those objections may be removed by subsequent projects; every one of which is full of dif

ficulties of its own, and which are all of them very essential alterations in the constitution. This seems very irregular and unusual. If any thing should make this a very doubtful measure, what can make it more so than that, in the opinion of its advocates it would aggravate all our old inconveniencies in such a manner as to require a total alteration in the constitution of the kingdom? If the remedies are proper in a triennial, they will not be less so in septennial elections; let us try them first; see how the House relishes them; see how they will operate in the nation; and then, having felt your way and prepared against those inconveniences *

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The hon. gentleman sees, that I respect the principle, upon which he goes, as well as his intentions and his abilities. He will believe, that I do not differ from him wantonly, and on trivial grounds. He is very sure, that it was not his embracing one way, which determined me to take the other. I have not, in newspapers, to derogate from his fair fame with the nation, printed the first rude sketch of his Bill with ungenerous and invidious comments. I have not, in conversations industriously circulated about the town, and talked on the benches of this House, attributed his conduct to motives low and unworthy, and as groundless as they are injurious. I do not affect to be frightened with this proposition, as if some hideous spectre had started from hell, which was to be sent back again by every form of exorcism, and every kind of incantation. I invoke no Acheron to overwhelm him in the whirlpools of its muddy gulf. I do not tell the respectable mover and seconder, by a perversion of their sense and expressions, that their proposition halts between the ridiculous and the dangerous. I am not one of those, who start up, three at a time, and fall upon and strike at him with so much eagerness, that our daggers hack one another in his sides. My hon. friend has not brought down a spirited imp of chivalry to win the first achievement and blazon of arms on his milk-white

shield in a field listed against him; nor brought out the generous offspring of lions, and said to them-not against that side of the forest, beware of that-here is the prey where you are to fasten your paws; and seasoning his unpractised jaws with blood, tell him-this is the milk, for which you are to thirst hereafter. We furnish at his expence no holiday, nor

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suspend hell, that a crafty Ixion may have
rest from his wheel; nor give the common
adversary, if he be a common adversary,
reason to say, I would have put in my
word to oppose, but the eagerness of your
allies in your social war was such that I
could not break in upon you. I hope he
sees and feels, and that every member sees
and feels along with him, the difference
between amicable dissent and civil
The House divided:

Debate in the Commons on the Exclusion of Strangers from the Gallery.] May 18. Mr. Hartley complained of the gallery being shut against strangers, and said, the people of England were at this time peculiarly interested in the conduct of their representatives, and that it was neither fair, nor decent, to shut them out, and prevent them from hearing the reasons given both for and against the measures proposed by gentlemen of either side of the House. He argued this point in a very handsome way on the part of the people, and put the impression, which shutting the doors made upon the minds of their constituents, in various points of view, each tending to shew, that the mea-nitely longer in its progress than it was at sure was likely to produce a bad effect present. He concluded with asking the without doors, without answering one good Speaker why strangers had been let in all purpose within. the former part of the session? If it was contrary to order now, it had been equally contrary to order all along.

Mr. Temple Luttrell strenuously maindiscord.tained the cause of the strangers, and said the world would not be satisfied with such an excuse as the standing order, nor admit that as a reason, because as the order was not inforced before, they would not be inclined to think there could be any greater reason for its being inforced now, and would rather think the true cause for thus taking it up, was a consciousness that the business in which the House then were employed, was of too dark a kind to meet the eye of day. He shewed the bad consequences likely to attend the shutting out of strangers, if the measure was persisted in, observing that their transactions would be misrepresented, and the people grossly misled. He pledged himself, however, in case the order was persisted in, to take care that the public should know what was done within those walls, and said, that if one order of the House was inforced, to the prejudice of their constituents, he would move for the inforcing of another, by which means the Speaker would be obliged to come down to the House at ten in the morning, and the business be infi

Sir Richard Sutton defended the Speaker by declaring, that there was a standing order against the admission of strangers, and that any member had a right to move to have it enforced. A member had lately moved to have it read, and that being the case, strangers were necessarily

The Speaker rose a second time, and said, the reason why he had not ordered strangers to be excluded before was, because he had conceived it to be the sense of the House that they should be admitted; that it was his duty to attend to the sense of the House; that they were masters of their own orders, but while they remained upon the book, he was bound to inforce them whenever he was called upon so to do.

Tellers.

Mr. Alderman Sawbridge
Mr. Byng

YEAS

NOES {Mr. Robinson

So it passed in the negative.

Sir Ralph Payne

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90

The Speaker said, there was a standing order of the House against the admission of any strangers, that an hon. member had lately moved to have that order read, and that being the case, however much inclined he might himself be to the contrary, he was reduced to the necessity of ordering the gallery to be shut.

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excluded.

Mr. Hartley said, he was not at all obliged to the hon. baronet for his information, because he was as wise before as he was then. He was perfectly aware of the standing order, but as that had been, made long since, and was as potent all the session as just at present, he wished to know why strangers were now excluded, and he had hoped the Speaker would have been so kind as to have informed him, as it was from his authority only, that he wished to learn any thing respecting the orders of that House.

Debate on sundry Clauses in Mr. Burke's Establishment Bill.] The House resolved itself into a committee on Mr. Burke's Establishment Bill, and proceeded to debate the clause for abolishing the several offices of master of the buck hounds, fox hounds, and harriers. After

some conversation divided, Ayes 49, | influence in its fullest extent, but they disNoes 75.-Agreed to the clause enacting, approved of the conclusion," that it ought that the places of lieutenant and ensign, to be diminished;" so far from it, in aland all other inferior offices belonging to most every subsequent vote they gave, the body of the yeomen of the guards, they declared, that it ought not to be diafter the determination of the offices re- minished, and they very consistently respectively in the present possessors; and fused to diminish it, which was such a also, that all commission and other offices phenomenon in politics as required some belonging to the band of gentlemen pen- explanation, and he would, as far as he sioners, shall not be sold, but filled by was able, endeavour to account for it. officers of the army and navy on half pay, Some measures were proposed in the of fifteen years service.-Divided on the course of the ensuing week, and a few clause, for abolishing the office of pay- country gentlemen, or county members, master of the pensions, &c. Ayes 64, from what motives he would not pretend Noes 79.-Divided on the clause, against to say, seemed, or affected to be stagthe private payment of the pensions paid gered; they divided from their friends, or during pleasure. Ayes 79, Noes 115.- absented themselves. But this was only Moved to fill up the clause for limiting the the fore-runner of the sudden alteration secret service money, with the words which was about to take place. The "3,000l." The clause was afterwards re- Speaker's illness caused a recess of a few jected without a division.-Divided on the days, and what was then before in embryo, clause for regulating the order in which in the interim grew into full maturity. the commissioners of the Treasury are to The minister brought over persons of a direct the payments, for which warrants doubtful description so successfully, that are to be sent by them to the Exchequer, by the time the House met again, so many viz. the Lord Chancellor, Lord Keeper, new converts were made, as to ensure the Speaker of the House of Commons, and noble lord a decided majority; so that, in Judges to be paid first; the Foreign Mi- the space of a few days, influence had nisters second, &c. Ayes 58, Noes 110.- suddenly increased, more than it had at Divided on the clause for issuing a com- any former period, in the course of as mission, authorizing the lords of the many months; and what the friends of Treasury, chief baron of the Exchequer, their country had been toiling and labour&c. to have power to call the several ac- ing to effect, during the preceding part of countants before them, &c. in a summary the session, was at once demolished. by way, and to examine and audit, &c. Ayes the magic touch of the minister, with 31, Noes 68.-Proceeded to the clause great ease to himself, and, he presumed, relative to limiting the auditor of the Ex- with infinite satisfaction to the persons chequer's salary, and limiting the salaries thus miraculously converted. The moof the two auditors of the imprest, the ment was critical; the accursed system chamberlain, clerk of the pells, clerk of which directed the affairs of this country the pipe, and tellers of the Exchequer. to the very brink of ruin, was on the very But a motion being made at half past point of dissolution, when by the art and eleven, that the chairman do leave the management of the noble lord, it was eschair, report progress and ask leave to tablished upon a firmer and more permasit again, the motion was put and carried. nent basis than ever. -In the conversation on the clause for abolishing the place of Paymaster of the Pensions.

Lord North rose with great warmth, and called Mr. Sawbridge to order. He said he had most unjustly and falsely accused him; that he might assert what he pleased, but he would treat his assertions with the disregard they merited. He defied him to prove, that he had employed the influence of the crown in an improper manner, or had endeavoured to influence or corrupt a single individual, since his entrance into office. After betraying some symptoms of being much hurt at the charge, he treated the affair in his usual strain of pleasantry. The hon. gentleman said, he was at a loss to account for

Mr. Alderman Sawbridge observed, that since the vote of the 6th of April, the influence of the crown had been in a progressive state of increase. On that memorable night, a majority of 233 gentlemen had voted, "that the influence of the crown had increased, was increasing, and ought to be diminished." Great numbers who composed that majority, had proved the second part of the proposition, in their own persons, in the clearest and most unquestionable manner. They had felt its

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